Mental Health Study - Final Report

Comprehensive analysis of mental health of children and adolescents in Suriname

Suriname Youth attend Mental Health Summit


The report, titled ”Comprehensive Analysis of Mental Health of Children and Adolescents in Suriname”, supported by UNICEF Suriname, presents a thorough investigation into the mental health status of children and adolescents within the country of Suriname. The study addresses the critical need for understanding and improving mental health among the young population, emphasizing the significance of well-being beyond the absence of mental illness. The quantitative study was conducted among 1166 respondents (from 56 schools in all ten districts) and the qualitative study (in-depth interviews and focus groups) was conducted with several key stakeholders working with children and adolescents.

Key Findings and Recommendations:

●Mental health awareness: The majority (51%) of the children and adolescents say that insufficient information is provided about mental health in Suriname.

●Prevalence of mental health issues: A significant portion of the respondents, children, and adolescents aged between 10 to 19 years, reported experiencing stress, with thinking about their future being the primary stressor. Additionally, about 28% of respondents indicated potential risk factors for depression, and 33% showed possible signs of anxiety disorders. This highlights a considerable prevalence of mental health challenges among the youth in Suriname.

●Suicidality: Alarmingly, around 36% of respondents admitted to having thoughts of not wanting to wake up or not wanting to be on earth anymore in the past year. This suggests a high level of distress and underscores the urgent need for effective mental health interventions and suicide prevention strategies.

●Socio-economic impact: The study found a strong correlation between socio-economic status and mental health, with those struggling financially reporting lower levels of mental health well-being. This points to the need for broader social and economic policies aimed at reducing poverty and its impacts on mental health.

●Gender differences: Female respondents reported higher levels of stress, anxiety, and depression than their male counterparts. This indicates gender-specific vulnerabilities and the need for tailored mental health services that consider these differences.

●Care-seeking and connectedness: It appears that slightly more than one quarter of respondents never talk to someone about their feelings, experiences, and problems. Those who do talk to others have a slightly higher level of mental health than those who never talk to others about their feelings, experiences, and problems. The challenge is that most respondents do not think that others (parents/caregivers, friends and especially teachers) will sufficiently understand their problems and worries.

●Protective Factors: Family support and engagement in physical activities emerged as significant protective factors against mental health challenges. Policies and programs promoting family cohesion and physical well-being could therefore be beneficial.

Conclusions and Recommendations:

The report concludes with a call for comprehensive action to address the mental health crisis among children and adolescents in Suriname. It emphasizes the importance of developing and implementing multi-sectoral strategies that include improving access to care within the educational and health care sector, social services, and community support. Recommendations include increasing mental health awareness, improving access to mental health services, integrating mental health into school curricula, and engaging parents and caregivers in mental health promotion efforts.
This study provides crucial insights into the mental health landscape among the youth in Suriname, serving as a foundation for policymakers, mental health professionals, and community leaders to develop targeted interventions aimed at enhancing mental well-being and preventing mental health disorders among children and adolescents.

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